Rocky Mountain West
3,200 square inches. That’s how much real estate is in a 40-by-80-inch painting. Painter Phill Nethercott will have five works that size in a new show opening August 8 at Legacy Gallery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
The artist, who lives in the small town of Millville, Utah, will be showing as many as seven new works total at the special “artist focus” show at the gallery’s Jackson Hole location. “We don’t really have a title for the show but since I was born, raised and lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for 50 years it might be titled Memoirs of Jackson Hole. All of the pieces are of locations within or around the Jackson area,” Nethercott says. “Landscapes of the Rocky Mountain West from the close, intimate and what is right at your feet, to the
vast vistas across the Snake River alluvial planes in the Grand Tetons. I also love painting the American Southwest, such as the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley.”
Works in the show include Ice Cream, a winter scene of a stream that is snaking between a snow-covered meadow and hill. There is a lot of nuance in white scenes like this, but it can be exceptionally hard when there isn’t a lot of play in the values. Nethercott has figured it out, though, and with marvelous results. “Painting winter scenes is a challenge because a lot of people don’t care for the ‘cold feeling’ such paintings can give. I was driving a canyon road when I came around a corner, and there was the late winter sun slamming across that icy winter plane into a snowy bluff,” he says. “The river below, which is a warm spring that stays open all year, was reflecting the cerulean blue sky, and the snow on the ridges seems to be melting down the sides like an ice cream sundae. I live for these incredible flashes of beauty in the landscape.”
Nethercott uses a fairly standard process when it comes to creating artwork. He sketches, uses photography for details, a small watercolor kit to capture color and generally prefers plein air, though it’s not always practical. In the studio he transforms all of these elements into his magnificent landscapes, some of them massive in size and scope.
“I think deep in the heart of many artists is a kind of egotism—‘i want to be the best there ever was.’ This kind of thinking, of course as childish as it may sound, puts you in competition with every artist that has ever lived. Can I be better than Rembrandt? Monet?” he says. “I chuckle at myself again but then I start a new painting and there it is—‘this is going to be the best painting there ever was!’ Putting ego aside I hope that I can make people feel what I feel when I see ice cream melting down a mountain slope.”
Tracery, oil, 40 x 80”
Mistical, oil, 40 x 80”
South Park Summer, oil, 40 x 80”
Ice Cream, oil, 24 x 36”